Trying International Crimes on Local Lawns: The Adjudication of Genocide Sexual Violence Crimes in Rwanda's Gacaca Courts
Posted: 4 Oct 2011
Date Written: Spring 2011
In the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide, the country chose to adjudicate the vast majority of crimes from the genocide in the Gacaca justice system. Originally, crimes of sexual violence were not under the jurisdiction of this traditionally-based justice system, but rather under the jurisdiction of the national courts. In 2008, as the Gacaca courts were coming to a close, 6,608 sexual violence cases on file in the national courts were transferred to the Gacaca courts. This article argues that personal, cultural and societal forces were not the only drivers behind the low number of sexual violence crimes adjudicated. Rather, the structure and process of the post-conflict judicial mechanism prohibited women’s access to justice. This article concludes that the manner in which sexual violence crimes were adjudicated gave many perpetrators de facto amnesty.
Keywords: Rwanda, Gacaca, Sexual Violence
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